|Why is this happening now?|
The Sheikh Jarrah dispute is a catalyst, not the cause of the violence.
A confluence of events has led us to this moment:
- Israel’s Supreme Court was due to make its final decision on the Sheikh Jarrah issue, but has delayed the decision until at least 8 June. There have been weekly, low-level protests in Sheikh Jarrah for some time.
- Organised and spontaneous Palestinian violence against Israel has been increasing in recent months. These include 40 rockets fired from Gaza into Israel in April, the filming and sharing on social media of random attacks against religious Jews and a fatal drive-by shooting in the West Bank.
- In response to the violence on social media, a handful of Jewish Israelis conducted provocative protests in Arab areas (these were stopped by Israeli police)
- After the 29 April postponement of the Palestinian parliamentary elections, the Palestinian leadership has sought to deflect criticism by changing the media focus. It has ramped up incitement to violence against Jews since that time. (There is historical precedent of increased incitement to violence leading within weeks to mass violence; two weeks before the second intifada in 2000, a dramatic increase in incitement to violence in Palestinian media was reported)
- It is currently Ramadan, a period in which Palestinian nationalist sentiment is usually intensified. 7 May, the first day of mass violence on the Temple Mount, was the last Friday of Ramadan, which always draws a massive crowd for Friday prayers.
- Monday was Jerusalem Day, the anniversary of the 1967 capture of the Old City (wherein lies the Temple Mount and Western Wall) by Israeli forces. The day is marked by Israelis marching towards and into the Old City, to gather at the Western Wall plaza. (This year, due to the tension, the route was changed).
- The Israeli political system is currently in a state of flux, with the mandate for forming a new (and probably minority) government having been handed to the Opposition Leader.
- There are numerous Palestinian parties that want to fight Israel until it is destroyed. These use any pretext to justify organised and popular violence. The Sheikh Jarrah and Temple Mount situations are examples.
- All of these factors are interwoven and often act as multiplying agents; it is near impossible to separate out individual factors as ‘the’ reason for the sudden violence.